60secondrecap publishes quick video summaries of great books on its Website, and this week, it gave the full treatment to Elie Wiesel’s classic Holocaust memoir Night.
Definitely seems like a good way to introduce a middle-schooler to the book. If you’re reading this and over the age of 20 or 25 or so, and still haven’t read it, though, you may just want to go pick the thing up and get it over with. It’s required reading in every sense.
Final question: 60secondrecap’s brief written summary argues, “the pinprick of light in all the darkness is that Eliezer does survive to tell his story—and to testify to the remarkable strength of the human spirit.” While the dominant fact of Night is simply its existence—the fact that someone lived through this and then told us about it will never cease to be remarkable—I don’t recall the book as arguing for the triumph of the human spirit, at least in the normal way. One of the book’s more poignant (if ultimately lesser) tragedies is that young Eliezer grows up enamored with Judaism and God—and particularly Kabbalah—yet by the end of the book finds it essentially impossible to be a believer. Even more than depicting the triumph of the human spirit, Night chronicles how a relatively ordinary person can manage simply to stay alive, to maintain the very basics of physical and mental health, in the face of absolute hardship—and, of course, absolute evil.
If you have a different opinion, though, please leave a comment. Or you can also record your own video response and leave it on the 60secondrecap site (a very cool touch!).
Oh, and if you’re a fan of Wiesel’s, may I recommend his brief Nextbook Press book on his own ancestor, the Talmudic scholar Rashi?